Located within the trendy Queen West neighbourhood of downtown Toronto, Graffiti Alley encompasses three city blocks running parallel to Queen Street and including the contiguous alleyway of Rush Lane.
Previously a hotspot for unsanctioned street art, Graffiti Alley sparked a debate on the blurred lines between vandalism and art, leading to a fight for its legalization. In 2011, advocacy by the Queen Street West Business Improvement Association was successful in obtaining designation for the alley as an area of municipal significance. Borne from this fight was StreetARToronto, a program that continues to provide approval and funding for public murals and graffiti art in the city.
Graffiti Alley has played a pivotal role in transforming public perception of street art in Toronto, highlighting its power in beautifying a neighbourhood. The area remains a popular tourist attraction, a vibrant backdrop for photoshoots, and a place to see works by iconic local artists.
In keeping with the nature of street art, pieces featured along Graffiti Alley frequently change. Recently, a group of 40 artists from the Greater Toronto Area and Montreal converged on the alley as part of a project entitled “Paint the City Black”, to cover the area with murals in support of Black Lives Matter.
And how’s this for art as commentary on the times? A couple coronavirus depictions and pandemic mentions can also be found in the current rendition of Graffiti Alley.